Fonio: A Magical Grain to Make Any Cook Proud (with salad recipe)

I bet we all know what Quinoa is by now… in fact, it might have become one more superfood that you are be tired of eating to revolutionize your health.

I’ve got an old secret for you and perhaps you’ll be happy to know that the world, particularly West Africa, has something more to offer to help you diversify your superfood portfolio: that secret is Fonio.

In this article, I will introduce you to Fonio. I will also share with you a culinary innovation: taking Fonio into modernity with a simple recipe that could make your life easier and your health better.



Meet Fonio :The grain that never embarasses the cook

Fonio has been cultivated in Africa for thousands of years. It requires less complex climatic conditions and minimal water to grow. This ancient grain which can be white or black is described quite accurately by The Guardian as a “a kind of millet that has a nutty flavor – a cross between couscous and quinoa in both appearance and texture”.

In Nigeria, fonio is known as the grain that never embarasses the cook so you can relax about messing it up. It might be the reason it is often a food found at events with a large number of guests to feed such as baptisms and weddings in West Africa.

Besides, aren’t cooking and good taste like artwork in one’s mouth? – Although most can agree on an excellent dish, each person always finds uniqueness in the tastes that best suit them.I think it is safe to say that Fonio is a Michelangelo in the grain world ,which can be prepared to suit most taste preferences.

A belittled superfood of the future

Fonio is a gluten free grain known to be easy to digest. Its low sugar content makes it an ideal food for people with diabetes. In fact, fonio is said to be one of the most nutritious of all grains as it is rich in iron and important amino acids not commonly found in other grains. These amino acids help synthesize protein and provide compounds required by the body for normal development and metabolism, which includes helping the liver burn fat .

The power of fonio also transpires in spirituality: according to the Daily Mail UK, “the Dogon people of Mali believe the entire universe was formed from the explosion of a single grain of fonio”, the smallest known grain. – It looks like Malian tradition had already nailed the superpowers of this tiny little grain!

Despite the great potential of Fonio, modernization and western influence seem to have left aside the oldest and once most cultivated grain in West Africa, to give way to more popular non-indigenous grains such as corn. In fact, Fonio is now known in urban centers as “the cereal of the poor” indicating you definitely don’t want to been seen eating that on a date!

That being said, I believe we shouldn’t walk past such a wonder, which nature has put in our hands for our own good.

If you didn’t know about Fonio, try it, discover it;

if you’re familiar with it: embrace it.

As National Geographic News put it, Fonio is a superfood of the past coming back into the future so don’t miss out!Fonio is commonly found on the West African Market: whether it’s in grocery stores or in public marketplaces, it is generally available year round. If you live in other parts of the world, you can find it in different packaging formats from your local African Food supplier, or it can be ordered online.I would recommend going for the pre-cooked version as it tends to be free of sand and faster to cook. In the recipe I’m about to share, I will be using the white grain form of Fonio in it’s pre-cooked version.By the way, did you know the word Fonio was borrowed from Wolof, a language from Senegal (West Africa)? If you didn’t, now you know! Now let’s get some cooking done!

The Culinary Innovation : How to make Kiswend’s Fonio Salad

STEP 1: Making Fonio Couscous:


STEP 2: Making Fonio Salad:



Here is what we’ve used in this recipe (for 6 people):

For the Fonio couscous:

Pre-cooked Fonio – 2 cups

Freshly boiled Water – 4 cups

For the Salad

1 Cucumber

1 Red pepper

1 Yellow pepper

1 small sweet onion or shallot ( save 1 tsp for the vinaigrette)

Fresh Basil leaves

For the vinaigrette

1 orange

1 lemon

2 tablespoons of mustard

2 tablespoons of olive oil

4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

sweet onion – 1 tsp

A pinch of salt

Ground pepper to taste

Optional: 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (my personal secret ingredient) or honey if that’s more readily available for you.

Maple Syrup

Other things you may find useful:

The Herb Scissors


The ceramic knife


You can make your life easier by reusing leftover fonio from a Fonio with peanut butter soup meal to make this recipe

[Want the recipe? Subscribe by entering your e-mail below to be notified when the recipe is published].

If it’s dry from sitting for a few days in your fridge, just add more water and reheat for a couple of minutes to make the fonio softer. You will want to let it go back to room temperature before mixing the rest of the salad ingredients. 

Use a liquid vinaigrette with this salad as fonio absorbs liquids quite well and becomes softer and tastier.

You can also eat fonio as a warm salad in the winter and keep your weight on point with the help of a “baya”.

Related article:

She's sexy and she knows it! - An African Secret to Seduction, Protection & Everything in Between.

Serving suggestions:

The Fonio Salad can be eaten like a regular portion of quinoa salad with your favorite cream soup.

My favorite is a cream of mushroom because its earthiness goes well with the flavours in Fonio.

If you are living the modern busy lifestyle, try putting this in a mason jar and take to work without having to worry about making yourself lunch!

The Mason Jar

Hungry people beware:

Fonio fills you up quite well and a little goes a long way. You don’t want to use large portions as you would with a lettuce based salad or you will end up wasting your Fonio.

Voila. Bon appetit!


By | 2016-10-25T00:30:22+00:00 January 12th, 2016|Food, Recipes, Videos|2 Comments

About the Author:

Kiswend is a Sista Tweet blogger, co-creator, designer and Creative Manager. She loves cooking, crafting and thinking outside the box and when she’s not on Sista Tweet or building up a city at her day job, this aspiring entrepreneur is busy inventing her next homemade African fusion project.


  1. Keemie October 31, 2016 at 16:38

    Thanks for the recipe. I love fonio I just discovered the grain recently. My dad who is a diabetic introduced it to me.

    • sistatweet October 31, 2016 at 18:37

      Good to know you’re enjoying Fonio and its benefits! Would you care to share how you usually eat it?

Comments are closed.

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